(Ed note: Cathy Tuttle lives here in Wallingford, and is running for the Seattle City Council seat for District 4, covering Wallingford to Sand Point.)
When friends tell me they understand what it’s like to run for political office because they’ve worked on campaigns, they remind me of me and my husband when we were expectant parents, thinking we knew what we were in for before our baby was born. We had no clue.
Running for office is the hardest and most overwhelming job I’ve ever had, on par with parenting an infant. And like having a new baby, it’s just as entertaining and delightful.
I wake up and go to sleep thinking about the campaign. I work without stopping all day, every day. I’m out knocking on doors four to six hours a day, every day. I’m at forums or community meetings or house parties every evening. I’m talking to volunteers and staff. I’m on the phone talking to potential endorsers, donors, and community members. Though my areas of expertise are land use and transportation, I’m answering dozens of detailed questionnaires (over 30 to date) on topics from gun control, to immigrant rights, to criminal justice reform (think of them as very long essay exams). I’m talking to reporters who I hope will write nice profiles. And I’m visiting sites and meeting with people who are experts in topics I want to learn more about — homelessness, affordable housing, and substance use disorders.
Knocking on doors is my favorite activity, maybe because I’m an anthropologist (M.A., UW). I thought I knew Seattle, but knocking on doors opens a whole new level of understanding.
I’ve lived in the same house in Wallingford since 1984 when my husband, David Notkin and I moved here. We raised two kids, both born at home. I went to hundreds of John Stanford International School, Hamilton, and youth sports events. I got a PhD (Urban Design & Planning, UW). Professionally, I’ve always worked in planning and community-building, from years managing the development of 40 parks and community centers, to editing all 37 neighborhood plans for the Planning Commission, to running community non-profits for climate action and Safe Routes to School. I’ve been responsible for $40 million budgets, I’ve started nonprofits, and served on many boards including Seattle Tilth, Master Gardeners, Wallingford Community Council, School Traffic Safety, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Sustainable Wallingford, and 350.org in Seattle.
And every day I am humbled by how little I really know about my neighbors and the neighborhoods around me.
I’m personally knocking on 8,000 doors as part of my campaign. There are around 50,000 registered voters in District 4, and I’m focused on Wallingford especially. I’ve decided to knock on around 1,000 doors just within a five-block radius of where I live.
It’s great to get to know you, neighbors! I love your pets (look at this bunny). I see who has beautiful gardens and who has even more books than I do in their living room. I meet you with your children who are wheelchair dependent, and meet with medical students studying at home. I talk to you about your fear of upzoning, and hear your worry about how you’ll pay taxes on a fixed income, and how you don’t know if your children will be able to afford to live in Seattle. You tell me how much you love living in Wallingford, and how you want to make sure Seattle stays friendly and green.
And open your door and tell me your story. I hear you. I am learning from you every day. I am grateful and I thank you.